Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Well, it's the day before the BIG DAY! and who knows what kind of shape I'll be in tomorrow morning to wish you a Happy New Year, so here it is today.  "What?"  you ask. "Is she going out partying for New Year's Eve? "  Well, yes I am--in my sewing room!  Hah!  My idea of a good party is me at the sewing machine while dinner's in the crock pot.  And it may go on until the wee hours of the morning!  Doesn't get much better than that in my mind.

The end of 2016.  Wow!  What a year it's been!  Of course, I've been following politics all year, and I can honestly say there have been no two weeks alike!  What a roller coaster!  I hope that 2017 is more settled politically, but something tells me it won't be.  Hmmmm.

I just read another blog where the quilter posted a review of all the quilts she finished in 2016 and it was massive! Although I try to work on sewing/quilting every day, I don't seem to get too many finishes. I began looking back through my posts from 2016 and realized I actually did finish off quite a few pieces--and lots of doll clothes!--but I won't try to post every one of them

Here are a few of the major finishes:

Bonnie and I made this for the 2016 AAUW scholarship fundraiser.

I made this to donate to Lois's fundraiser for a shelter for homeless families.  Because I used a permanent marking pen for the quilting design, this quilt is still here and I donated the stack and whack below that I had already finished up.

This is the king-sized Bear Paw quilt I made for my daughter's friend. We designed it over the internet and we both are very pleased at how it turned out.

 This little McKenna Ryan pattern sat in my stash for many years, and  is now hanging in my TV room.

The scrappy Quilt of Valor I made for the presentation on Veterans Day.

My embroidered "show quilt" which has 3 mistakes in it that I found after all the quilting and binding was done, so I don't enter it in any shows. Sigh.

And I made numerous smaller items, like 43 key chain coin purses!  And several table runners, a set of placemats and napkins, embroidered pin cushions, and as stated above, lots and lots of doll clothes! By the way, as you may remember, the doll clothes and some other things were intended for sale at the guild Country Store at the Quilt Tour last November.  This was a fundraiser for the domestic abuse agency here in the county, and I'm please to let you know that together with the proceeds of the Blue Plate Special lunch we also served, we were able to write a check for slightly over $1700 to the program!  We've never even come close to a thousand dollars in past years, so we are very happy.  As is the program, I'm sure!  

Everything I made for the store was sold except for 4 doll outfits.  I'm already working on making a few things to get a head start on the next time we do this. I love to sew and quilt, and do embroidery and knitting, and I don't know about you but I get much pleasure out of using these skills for the good of others.  

What does 2017 hold for me in the way of quilting?  Well, I went back to the first post I made in 2016 and see that I had a goal of quilting up the blue and white log cabin quilt.  

One of the blocks of the scrappy blue and white LC quilt

Guess what?  That never happened and now it's the first goal of 2017!  However, this time the thing is pinned and ready to go as soon as I decide on how to quilt it up.  

I also see that of the 9 quilt tops on my side bar that were to have been quilted up this year, only 2 of them got done.  But, hey, that's two more than at the beginning of the year!  And keep in mind, these are bed sized quilts and take quite a bit of time to get finished.  And also keep in mind, I finished 5 additional quilts of bed and throw size, so give me a little break here, will you?  Actually, I'm the one who puts the pressure on myself to get these tops finished up, out of the closet and onto a bed.  So for this year, I want to get 2 more off that list on my side bar.  In addition to the blue and white LC quilt.  

That's it for my end-of-the-year post.  I hope you are able to say good by to 2016 with a feeling of satisfaction about how your life has gone, and if not, I hope 2017 will be much better for you--and for all of us.

Friday, December 30, 2016

I love sandwiches!

Quilt sandwiches, that is.  And I have a "Yuge" quilt sandwich waiting for me in the sewing room.  It's actually "Bigly," but enough of politics.  LOL!

Don and I went to the rec center this morning and he actually helped pin the quilt sandwich!  First time ever, and he did an acceptable job.  I'd say a great job but I don't want him to get an inflated sense of himself. Just kidding.  Unfortunately, I didn't  have a phone with me so I don't have a picture to share with you.  I think this "blue and white log cabin" quilt is going to remain a mystery for you for a few more days. I plan on beginning the quilting on it this afternoon but first I want to finish up the second of the two needle cases I'm making.  I began the finishing work on it yesterday and it'll only take an hour or so to get it finished except for hand sewing the binding.

Yesterday, I was able to find, not Sulky's Sticki Solvy, but a similar product. I took it to the office supply store nearby and for $1.49 (including tax!), I got all but 2 of the designs printed on the filmy sheets.  The last two designs are less complicated and I think I can trace them without too much problem.  I hope to be able to begin on this embroidery project tonight.  And since tomorrow's New Year's Eve, I can stay up as late as I like and stitch away!

No post is complete without pictures, right?  So I pulled a couple off the computer to share with you.

This is Lily and me at one of the waterfalls in a state park we camped at several years ago when she was about 6 or 7, I think.  I'm the one in the yellow shirt.  :)

Don and I at the Grand Canyon in March, 2011 or 2012.  This was a great trip with our good friends--until the last day when we were snowbound and couldn't make the drive to Phoenix to catch our flight!  The next day was fine and we were able to get home again.  

This is a picture I took of a pillow I saw in a store a few years ago. I really liked it and said to myself. "I can make that!"  Needless to say, it hasn't been made yet, but now I have some fabrics that would be perfect made up into a pillow like this.  One more thing on the project list!

Now, I'm going to tackle the first load of laundry and then it's off to the sewing room!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas is nearly done for 2016

I already shared with you how Don and I celebrated Christmas with our daughter Jo here at home. Well, we also did some Skyping with our other daughter and granddaughter in Maine on Christmas eve and morning and that was pretty cool since they can't join us this year. However, Tessa works for the absolute best company out there and she's already making arrangements to be home next year for a long Christmas break, and the company says they have no problem with her working either from our house or from their Eau Claire office where she began her career.  Sweet!  It'll be fun to be with Lily for some of the winter instead of only the summers.

So, that covered 2 of the kids.  The third one, our only son, Dan, is in Milwaukee with his wife and 3 kids, and they have Christmas with Erin's large family down there. Don and I drove down on the 27th and had the kids swimming in the hotel pool, opened presents from everyone and for everyone, and then had a "grazing" dinner.  I brought a bunch of finger foods so everyone could just help themselves to cheese, meat and crackers, veggies and dip, fruits, and so forth. And we opened up the ginormous tin of Barb's Balls!

We spent the night at the hotel since their house is a little on the small side, and in the morning, they all came back over to have brunch with us in the hotel dining room.  Delicious! And then we drove back home and celebrated our wedding anniversary last night with dinner at the new Hmong restaurant here in town. We've had take out from there before but last night we dined in the restaurant. We each ordered something new and were not disappointed.  


Don had Mongolian Beef with rice which he liked very much, 

and I had Laab or Larb, and it was extremely delicious!   This is ground meat (I chose chicken) cooked with cilantro, green onion, chili peppers and served with rice and lime.  I'd heard about this dish on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives when he discovered Opels' Thai Food in Haleiwa on Oahu, HI. When we were in Hawaii a couple of years ago, we found this restaurant and the food was amazing, so I'm really glad to be able to have it again here in NW Wisconsin!  Who would have thought?

In the quilting world, I have an appointment tomorrow at 9 to take the king sized blue and white log cabin quilt to the rec center and use their tables to spread it out and create the quilt sandwich. I have the backing all done but have to cut the batting yet. Shouldn't take but a few minutes--Knock, knock, on wood!  Then I'm all charged up to get it quilted and bound and sent off to it's new owners, Dan and Erin.  

I'm also considering joining the One Hundred Eighty-Two Day Solstice Challenge created by Pat Sloan.  

Pat Sloan 182 day solstice challenge

I know, I know, I shouldn't even think about starting a new project, but this one is only one block a week and I should be able to handle that, don't you think? I have a large amount of Christmas fabric that's  a very pale green background with springs of dark green and dark red Christmas greenery scattered about. I thought I'd use that for the background of the blocks and use Christmas reds and greens from my stash to make the blocks.  And I'll end up with a Christmas quilt for one of the beds.  I have 2 bed-sized Christmas tops finished and when this challenge is finished, I'll have a third one waiting to be quilted up!  We can always use more unfinished quilts hanging around the house, can't we?

After I'm finished with this post, I'm heading to Eau Claire to get some embroidery floss--and run some other errands as well--for the new embroidery project I'm getting ready for my evening stitching.  

It's called Among the Pines and it finishes at 42" square, if I remember right.  The square blocks are finished at 6 1/2" and there's a lot of stitching to do in each square.  I spent an hour tracing the upper left block, with the sailboat, and had a very difficult time doing all the little lines on the pine trees. I decided to try using Sulky's Printable Sticky Solvi which I think is carried at Joanne's.  If it is, I'll get some and take it to an office supply store nearby to have them photocopy the designs onto the film. I also need to get floss for this project. I usually just dig into my supply of partially used flosses, but this project requires quite a bit of the same colors so I'll get full skeins and know I'll have enough.

Later this afternoon, I have OT on my wrist and that's about all for the day.  What does your day look like?  

Monday, December 26, 2016

It's Boxing Day!

Image result for boxing day images 2016

After what I hope was a wonderful Christmas day for you, as it was for me, today it's time to celebrate Boxing Day! No, I'm not British nor do I have any connection to anything British, but I just like the idea of keeping the celebration going!  I guess, Boxing Day for the Brits is the day to give presents to everyone, not on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning as we do in the States.  If anyone knows a better explanation of Boxing Day, please feel free to correct me.

So, what am I doing to celebrate Boxing Day?  Not anything exciting, I can tell you.  After the flurry of activity over the past few days, I am ready to work my way back into my old routine, but I still embrace the option of continuing to celebrate!  I didn't take the time to post over the last couple of days, so I guess I'll update you now.  

I actually managed to make up all three kinds of "Barb's Balls" and get them packed up in their tins. Jo spent Christmas Eve with us and she took her tin with her when she left to go to my niece's place for Christmas afternoon. I expect her cookies are just about all gone by now. And I have the BIG tin of balls ready to go to Milwaukee with us tomorrow.  I've refilled this tin several years in a row--the kids always make sure to return it to me so I can fill it up again!  

You can see it's a large tin--measures 10" in diameter and it's 4" tall.  I usually pack it full with 3 layers of ball cookies, but this year I didn't make as many cookies so it's only 2 layers full. But still plenty for everyone, I think.

Let's see, what else did the holidays hold for us?  Well, as I said, youngest daughter, Jo, came home Saturday afternoon and we made our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Choucroute Garni pictured below. No, that's not my pic--I stole it from Wikipedia.

Image result

I began making this German/Alsatian dish over 30 years ago in protest to all the Scandinavian lefse and lutefisk made in the area where we were living at that time.  For some reason, the kids as well as Don and I, really enjoy this dish and have never given up having it on Christmas Eve.  However!  As I searched for a recipe to link with this picture, I learned that I've been leaving out the wine all these years. I guess I'd better correct that, right?  I vow, in future, I will cook this food in a liberal amount of white wine and it'll be ever more delicious that before. And if it isn't, we won't care. :)

Before dinner, we watched my favorite Christmas movie, A Christmas Story,  

Image result for a christmas story

And after dinner we opened the board game based on the movie, which I'd been given several years ago but never got around to playing.  Well, there's a reason this board game isn't a best seller. It is so complicated!  The three of us tried to figure out how to play it and gave up after a couple of rounds.  We took out the trivia cards and took turns asking each other the questions and moving our tokens around the board.  We all agreed that this is a game that belongs in the Goodwill box, and that's where it is right now.

On Christmas Day, I fixed a baked egg brunch dish and shortly after, Jo took off, leaving Don and I to a quiet and peaceful house.  I spent some time in the sewing room, making 4 more little quilted ornaments to take with us on our post-Christmas visit to the kids and grandkids in Milwaukee.  I still have to finish them up but that won't take but an hour or so.  We leave tomorrow and return the following day and we'll be swimming with the kids in the hotel pool, and feasting on the finger foods that Erin and I are assembling for a "grazing" dinner in the hotel room.  And, of course, we have Christmas presents for all of them to open--I hope the boys like the toys we got them! My husband picked them out so they're sure to be a hit with the other two little boys.  :)  Just kidding!

This afternoon, I also want to get out the king sized blue and white log cabin quilt top and figure out if I should put a border on it or not, get the backing and batting ready and make a reservation to use the tables at the Community Center to sandwich it up.  I'd like to get it quilted and finished in time to take it to Erin and Dan on our way to Alabama at the end of January.

That's what my day looks like so far.  How about yours?  Will you be giving out presents or staying home and enjoying the gifts you have?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cookie Time!

Yesterday, I got my kitchen clean--and it's actually sparkling! And I got the grocery shopping done so that's all set.  But I didn't make it to the sewing room.  Darn!

Today began with a trip to OT for more therapy on my thumb.  In addition to the ultrasound and massage, I now get an electronic bandage of some sort that forces anti-inflammatory medication into the joint. I have to leave the patch on for several hours and while it's on, I'm not supposed to use the hand too much.  That's the perfect time for Wastebook!  And for typing this blog post!  I'm nearly at the end of the 3 hours when I can take it off and then I'm in the kitchen making "Barb's Balls."

No, not Schweddy Balls, but Barb's Balls. (Although I love this Alec Baldwin skit from 1998.  It still cracks me up!)   In the past I would make a dozen different kinds of Christmas cookies over the course of several weeks--and I had enough children in the house that they were all consumed in timely fashion. Now that it's only Don and me in the house, and he doesn't eat sugar, I haven't been able to come up with a justification for making all those cookies for ME to eat.  And gain about a thousand pounds while doing so! So now, I only make 3 kinds of cookies--and they're all balls! We'll have a few of them on Christmas Eve and the rest will get packed up to go home with Jo and to Milwaukee on Tuesday.

I make Mexican Wedding Cakes (these are not mine, but from the Pillsbury site),

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Chocolate Coconut Rum Balls (or "Rumbles" as my son said when he was a child). Sorry, no pix available, 

and Buckeyes.  Again, this picture is from the All Recipes website, not mine.  

Buckeyes II

Thirty plus years ago, when we had two young children (Johanna had yet to arrive), we lived in a very small town on the Minn/Iowa border and the children chose an elderly couple on the block as their adoptive grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Boe.  They were two of the loveliest people you could ever meet, and they liked having the kids come over and visit.  One Christmas, Mrs. Boe gave us a tray of her cookies including what I now know are called Buckeyes.  But I didn't know the name back then so we began calling them "Mrs. Boe's Balls" and we still do.  

Those are the 3 ball cookies cookies that make up "Barb's Balls," and I'd better get going on this job or we'll have no balls on Christmas Eve.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

This weather is totally unreal!

Only a few days ago I was griping that the Polar Vortex had us, here in Wisconsin, tightly in it's grip and for the last 3 days, I've had the front door open to let in the sunny warmth.  It's been nearly 40 degrees for these 3 days with brilliant sunshine.  You can see Clem likes it a lot.

Don't disturb me, Mom, when I'm taking my sun bath. Sheesh!
He'll stay there until the sun goes around the corner and it gets a little chilly over there. but for now, he's loving it!

I'm later than usual in posting this today. This morning, I made a resolution to not get on the computer until I've gotten ready for the day and have at least begun my daily chores. I find that I spend waaaay too much time on Wastebook, as one person calls it, and otherwise fooling around on the computer when there's a lot of other stuff that needs to get done.  Today, I kept the resolution and have my daily chore done, which took quite a bit of time since it was thoroughly cleaning the kitchen, and I have my shopping list ready to go as soon as I'm done here. I was planning on doing a soup in the slow cooker but I see that it's too late for that so I'll just make it up on the stove top when it's nearer to dinner time.

Yesterday, I did spend some time in the sewing room, finishing one of the needle cases.

The pins are in there since I've yet to stitch down the binding.  Tonight, for sure!

You can see that the pocket extends across both sides of the case--I'd thought it was only on one side-- so I can keep extra "stuff" in there--whatever.  I embroidered a fancy capital E on one of the felted wool pages--that's so I'll keep my embroidery needles together on that page and the other page can be for general purpose needles.  If I was a hand quilter, I would have embroidered a capital Q on one page, but I'm not. I have yet to take up needle turn applique but I want to and when I do, I may have to embroider a capital A on one page.  Whatever, there's plenty of room in this needle case for all kinds of needles.

I also played around with scraps and made up some little ornaments following directions I got here--


These are the two I made.  They're pretty tiny--3.5" finished--and I'm not used to working with such tiny pieces--I was afraid to breathe for fear of blowing them off my work table! I like how they turned out and I'm challenging myself to make 3 more to give to my kids and grandkids when I see them next week.

When Don and I were  newly married and getting ready for our first Christmas, we realized that we had no ornaments and no money to buy ornaments!  What to do!  Well, resourceful people that we are, we begged ornaments and lights off grandma and mom at Thanksgiving time and had enough to decorate that first tree.  We don't have any of grandma's anymore, but I still have 2 or 3 that my mom gave us.  Two of them I remember being on the tree when I was a little girl in the 1950's.  Hmmmm, maybe I should contact Antiques Roadshow!  

But I digress.  I resolved that should we have children we would give then an ornament every year so when they left home and put up their first tree, they'd have a lifetime of memories with which to decorate it. So, we did that, faithfully each year, and now I try to make an ornament for each of the grandchildren and sometimes for the adult kids as well, so they'll have their own personal collection when it's time to set up their own homes.  

Well, I'd better get off to the grocery store while there's still time. I'm getting the supplies for making some cookies tomorrow and also the items I'll need for Christmas Eve supper and Christmas morning breakfast for the three of us.  Sorry, Clem, you're not included in the feasting.  You'll get your usual dry food since that's what you like best in the world anyway.  :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It's Winter Solstice!

Today is the Winter Solstice, the time of longest darkness and least lightness. It's a time of rebirth--from now on, we'll be getting more and more light time, although it's only minutes a day.  I love the winter solstice and I think I'll celebrate this year with one of my  "white" dinners.  I have chicken in the freezer, white potatoes (made with parmesan cheese maybe?), and usually, it would be cauliflower, but since Don doesn't like that veggie, I'll go with broccoli.  And vanilla ice cream for dessert.  I think that's white enough, don't you?  And candles lit all around.

Image result for winter solstice images

That's my plan to celebrate the Winter Solstice.  It's not too late to plan a celebration if you haven't done so already.  So, Happy Winter Solstice, everyone!  I hope you enjoy every minute of this day--and all your days--knowing that winter will end and spring will come again.

On to sewing news.  Yes, I finished the log cabin Santa ornaments, 2 of them, just made of scraps as samples.  I like how they turned out but they are way too big.  Much too big to hang on a Christmas tree but maybe in a window or several strung together in a garland.  At any rate, I won't be making any more of them but I'm glad I tried it out.

I also finished up the Merry Christmas pillow--complete with bobble fringe!  

The pattern is for a 16 by 12 inch pillow but I had a 14" pillow here so I modified it to fit. I'm quite happy with how it came out.  All from scraps of Christmas fabric.  And I have plenty more Christmas scraps to make another--and another--and . .  Stop!  I could be making these pillows all year!  (but I'd clear out a lot of scraps, wouldn't I?)

On today's agenda, after I do my daily housework chores, I'll be finishing up these needle cases.

I already finished the embroidery for two cases and just have to make them up into the finished product. I'll be keeping one for myself, and since none of my daughters are stitchers, I think I'll put the second one up for sale in my Etsy shop.  The needle case would be a great little gift for anyone who does hand sewing--embroidery like me, applique, or wool applique.  There's  a pocket inside for a small pair of scissors, and 2 "pages" of felted wool to hold the needles.  I'm going to label one of my pages for embroidery needles, and the other for sewing needles (for stitching on bindings, etc).

After these are done, I have no more UFO's on my immediate list.  I think I'll next take out the king sized log cabin quilt and get it ready for sandwiching. I can't remember if I need to put borders on or not, it's been so long since I worked on it--I began it in the summer of 2015 and when the log cabin blocks were stitched into the center of the quilt, I set it aside.  I already have fabric for the backing but it'll likely need to be pieced and if I misjudged the yardage, I'll have to make up some blocks to enlarge it as needed.  My plan was to have this quilted up so I could take it with when we visit our son and DIL next week, but that's just not going to happen.  When it's done, I'll make a special trip to Milwaukee to get it to them.  

While searching for images of Winter Solstice, I found this from Albert Camus and I like it, especially "in the midst of winter I found that there was, within me, an invincible summer."

Blessings to all my readers, enjoy your Solstice and prepare for your Christmas, and know that summer is always within.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

And now a movie review

Yesterday book review, today I'll let you know what I thought of the movie Don and I saw yesterday--Manchester By the Sea. I thought this movie was directed by Matt Damon but I see at Rotten Tomatoes that the director is Kenneth Lonergan.  Maybe Matt was in on the producing--I don't know.  Anyway, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 97% and an audience rating of 85%.

Both Don and I liked it although it's an unusual movie.  Without revealing too much plot--and surprises--for those who haven't seen it yet, the story revolves around a young man who's suddenly made guardian of his recently deceased brother's teenaged son.  The man needs to return to his home town, Manchester-by-the-Sea, where the kid lives, and where the man was has a terrible tragic past. An event he's not been able to come to terms with.  So, the man and the teen need to figure out how they can make this new arrangement work for both of them.

Acting was Pretty. Darn. Good.  IMHO.  I got teary a couple of times at the psychic pain the young man was feeling as well as laughing a few times at the jokes between the kid and the man. I would like to see this movie again because it's one that you can't possibly take in completely in one viewing. The ending is not at all what I expect in a movie--but it wasn't a bad ending.

Nuff said about that movie.  I'll either rent it for the second viewing or watch it on Netflix.  After the theater, we finished up the Christmas shopping and I found the bobble fringe I wanted at the Joanne's. Today, I'd like to get that sewn onto something so it doesn't linger too long.

Before I hit the sewing room, however, I NEED to do some housecleaning! Those of you who've been with me in this little blogging journey know by now that cleaning house is right down there with getting prepped for a colonoscopy--not my favorite thing to do!  However, both cleaning house and cleaning the colon are necessary for good health, (so they say!) so I'll get to work on the housework. My colon can wait for another few years before I have to get that thing cleaned out again, thank goodness!

Maybe I'll try the vodka suggestion the next time!

I found another Christmas ornament that I want to try out in the sewing room today, if there's time.  It was posted at the Moda Bake shop, here if you want to check it out. Two little pieced ornaments--churn dash and sawtooth star. And I have the scraps to use!


So, that's it for today.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Time for a book report

I mentioned a couple of days ago that a friend who runs a quilting retreat center nearby had asked me to read and review a book someone had suggested she might want to stock for her guests.  I decided to get on that right away and I finished it yesterday. The book is Dust Between the Stitches, written by Cleo Lampos.  I'd never read anything by her before so I went in with a really open mind.

And by the way, I have no affiliation with the author or publisher or any other component of this book. I'm simply expressing my opinion after reading it.

The setting is 1930's Colorado--the height of the Dust Bowl--and the characters are an elderly farmer, his 2 adopted "orphan train" grandchildren, his biological adult granddaughter and the itinerant preacher who lives in a cabin on the property.  The story involves 1) the granddaughter getting her bearings as teacher of the one room schoolhouse, 2) hoping to save the farm from foreclosure, and 3) a tiny bit of romance thrown in for good measure.  Woven through these plot lines is the Sunbonnet Sue/ Overall Sam quilt that the granddaughter is stitching.

All of these plot elements could be used as jumping off points to develop into a really good book, but I think the author wasn't able to capitalize on them as well as could have be done.  I found the writing quite amateurish--I kept getting confused from paragraph to paragraph as to what was happening and I had to keep rereading to figure out if the people had stayed in the house or gone outside, for example, or which person was actually speaking. I became frustrated.  The characters as well weren't developed as completely as I like--they seemed shallow and with only one or two dimensions, whereas I believe humans are multidimensional. Also, the granddaughter was able to cut out and hand applique two quilt blocks per evening and I found this somewhat unrealistic based on my experience. But maybe I'm a slow stitcher!

The book is filled with references to  Christianity and the Bible with lots of emphasis on placing trust in God's plan. I find this seems to be common in books about quilters and while many quilters embrace the Christian faith to one degree or another, for those of us who aren't Christian, it can be off putting.  I found it amusing that while the emphasis was in trusting in the Lord to solve the problems faced by the characters, it was the people in the story who came up with solutions.

I'll return this book to my friend with my review of it. I was able to finish the book, but I kind of had to force myself to do so. If I hadn't agreed to review it, I would have set it aside unfinished.  Unlike many of the books I read, I was very happy when it ended.  Will she keep it for her guests?  I don't know. It's not the type of book I enjoy reading, but maybe others will.

Well, that task is crossed off my list.  Yesterday, I finished baking the orange cranberry bread and Don and I delivered the loaves to the neighbors--in -11 F cold!  We didn't stand at the doorway chatting, I can tell you!  I also made the Beef Bourguignon and have two dinners in the freezer for Jo to enjoy.  And that was about it for the day.  No activity in the sewing room at all.

Let's see what's on my list for the coming week.  Today, I have house cleaning to begin, a haircut and then off to the movies with Don to see Manchester by the Sea in Eau Claire and to finish up the last of the Christmas shopping for the grandsons.  Before Christmas Eve, I want to finish the Snowman ornament

and maybe make up a half dozen or so to add to the Christmas gifts, and I want to finish up the needle cases

 and the Christmas pillow I embroidered.  I'll get the bobble fringe when I'm in town this afternoon.

I also want to do something with these fabrics I got a month or so ago in Duluth.  

And I have a couple of other Christmas projects that I'd like to begin so I'm ahead of the game for next year.  I think that's enough of a list for this week.  As always, no wagering on whether I complete this list or not.  ha ha ha

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Baking and Cooking

Doesn't this just remind you of Home Ec in 8th grade?

I'm planning on being in the kitchen all day today. Well, maybe a little bit in the sewing room if I can.

When I got out of bed this morning, it was -20 F and that's way too cold for anyone. How the animals survive outdoors, I have no idea, but I'm staying indoors for as much of the day as I can.  In the kitchen.  I'm going to finish baking cranberry orange bread and Don and I will deliver the loaves to the neighbors later in the afternoon--predicted high of -5 around 4 pm!  Balmy, don't you think?

After the bread is baked and out of the oven, I'll put in the pot of Beef Bourguignonne and that will be ready when dinner time rolls around.

Don and I had a bit of a chat this morning. We usually spend an hour or so talking while I drink my morning coffee and he has his morning water, just going over the news of the world (and solving all the world's problems while we're at it. LOL), what's happening in town and with our kids, and what our plans are for the day.  Then we go our separate ways until  we have dinner together and get ready for the evening.  So this morning, he'd watched Meet the Press, and he asked me if I felt anxious and nervous about what the future holds. Well, yes, says I.  I think we're all nervous over the future--no matter if you're a conservative or a progressive, we all should realize that we're in the middle of a great change in America and no one really knows what that means for us.

I told Don that I've decided that it's best to limit my exposure to "news" sources and that when I watch news on tv, it should be on PBS. I try to focus on what I can and need to do to make my little section of the world a better place than it was the day before.  That's all I can do.  So, today, I'll be baking gifts for my neighbors and making delicious food for my family.  And if there's time, I'll be doing some sewing for myself.

Yesterday, I delivered the placemats and napkins to Jo for her Secret Santa, and she was pleased with them. Whew!   I never know when I'm making something for someone whether or not they'll like the finished product, and she did.

Yesterday on FB, I found this quilt at Quilting Digest.

News Flash Quilt

I immediately fell in love with it and printed off the directions to make it up. It'll be a great scrap buster!  I'm not sure what colors to use. Although I like the red, white and black color scheme shown, I think I'd like to make this up in something different.  Likely some color that I have a lot of in my stash!  

And I also found this Holiday Quilt from Quilter's World Autumn, 2014, and I like it very much as well.

Holiday Wall Quilt

I have the perfect place for this on my wall, and I'm sure I have some holiday fabric to use in the center of the star.  I'll just figure out dimensions and make this up to fit the space I have.  So, another entry on my list of Quilts I MUST Make!

To everyone in the frigid upper Midwest, please stay warm and don't go out unless you absolutely must.  It's dangerous cold out there today. Stay home and cook something!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Placemats finished!


I can't believe it!  I put in the last binding stitch a few minutes ago in the last placemat and will  be leaving in about an hour to meet up with Jo and turn them over to her. And the 4 matching napkins as well.

Yesterday I found directions on how to make continuous bias binding and struggled with that for an hour or more before I figured out how to stitch the pieces together.  And then I cut the strips with a scissors.  That was a disaster! When I took the bias strip to the ironing board to press it in half, I saw how irregular my cutting was.  And I also realized that there were a lot more seams in the binding strip than I'm used to dealing with. Trying to fit the binding around the corners without having the seams there was a challenge.  And when I had two of the placemats bound, I realized I'd miscalculated the length I needed and I'd have to cut more.  Needless to say, I chose to cut the remaining binding on the straight grain!  That was a lot easier and quicker than the bias binding.  I don't think I'll be doing bias binding again anytime in the near future!

However, I still need to put the final border on Allietare, shown here, partially finished.  This was Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt last year and it calls for a scalloped border.

I've been wanting to make a scalloped border for some time now and I thought I'd try it on this quilt. But that bias binding is going to be a challenge!  Well, maybe not so much as it was for the placemats.  I'll be cutting from a larger piece of yardage so the seams will be farther apart and There will only be 4 corners instead of the 16 in the set of placemats.  So maybe it'll work out better.  Yeah, I guess I'll go ahead with that scalloped border after all.

Yesterday, I managed to roast a fresh ham we had in the freezer, and Oh My Goodness!  It turned out so well! Flavorful, moist and tender.  I cross cut through the fat and rubbed in a mixture of salt and pepper, cumin and thyme, and a few red pepper flakes.  The whole thing roasted for half an hour at 425F. then I cut the heat to 325F, poured a cup of white wine and 1/2  cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan, and then covered it with foil.  Roasted it for another 2 hours and then let it sit and cool before I began shredding it.  

We made Cuban sandwiches with it for supper--They were sooooo good!  Mine didn't look as nice as this one made by Tyler Florence, but it tasted amazing!  

The Ultimate Cuban Sandwich

I bagged up the leftover pork to take to Jo for BBQs or Cubans, whatever she likes, and there's still enough left over to make a roast pork dinner for Don and me.

I didn't get to the Beef Bourguignon but I'll get that done either tonight or tomorrow .  I also plan on baking more loaves of Cranberry Orange bread and take them around to the neighbors tomorrow. Then I'll be able to move on to another quilting project like finishing the embroidered needle cases 


and the embroidered Christmas pillow.  When I'm in Eau Claire next Monday, I think I'll pick up some of that bobble trim to use on my pillow.  Cute!

Wow!  After reading what I wrote about things to get done in the next few days, I'm looking at a lot of work!  But it's "fun" work and that makes it okay. I enjoy cooking and baking and of course, I enjoy working on sewing projects, so it doesn't seem like work at all.  

But now it's time to get ready for my trip to see Jo and to give her the food and the placemats.  Enjoy your day, everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Change of plans

Yesterday, I posted that I was determined to finish quilting up the placemats and have them ready to hand over to Jo, but that plan got ditched real quick.  My husband reminded me that we're predicted to have a pretty big snowstorm Friday (today) and Saturday.  Since Jo's decided not to come home but rather to meet up for lunch, I decided I should make a run to the grocery store and get what I need to make up some yummy food to take to her.  I'm going to make some beef-bourguignonne-pot-pie

I got this recipe from Barbara of  Three Cats Ranch who blogs at Cat Patches.  The recipe is from Bon Appetit and it's really, really good!  When I've made it before, I usually cook up some egg noodles and serve it over them instead of putting it in a pie as shown.  

I also took out a fresh ham and will roast that up for pulled pork and she'll be able to use it any way she wants.  So, cooking is on my agenda for today.

After my trip to the grocery store, I also realized that there are only a few days before Christmas!  Yikes!  Where did the time go?  I hate it when a holiday creeps up on me and scares the bejeezus out of me!  So, I decided I needed to finish up the Christmas shopping before the snow arrives and I spent a couple of hours doing that--and got it done!  Today, I'll wrap up Tessa and Lily's gifts and get them out in the mail. Will they arrive in Maine before Christmas?  Who knows.

I had planned on making some of my special Christmas cookies to fill a tin and to send that along with the gifts, but no time to bake cookies if I want that box at the post office today. Instead, I made 5 loaves of Cranberry Orange quick bread,, another recipe I got via Barbara--she's just the best cook around and generously shares her recipes.  Thanks so much , Barbara!

So, here's the picture of the bread that was posted along with the recipe:

Cranberry-Orange Bread with Grand Marnier GlazeRecipe

And here are the loaves I made.  They'll be wrapped up and given to the neighbors today--if it doesn't snow too hard.

But first, I need to wrap up the Christmas presents and get that box to the post office!  

Wish me luck with finishing the placemats today so I can give them to Jo when she and I meet up for our lunch.